GREENVILLE, S.C. – Six more coaches formerly associated with Rockstar Cheer have been accused of sexual abuse in a federal lawsuit amended Thursday, the latest development in an escalating scandal that has sent shockwaves through the world of competitive cheerleading.
The lawsuit, originally filed Sept. 1 in Greenville, South Carolina, now includes three additional female plaintiffs, all unidentified, plus the new coaches, who are accused publicly for the first time — Kenny Feeley, Josh Guyton, Nathan Allan Plank, Christopher Hinton, Traevon Black and Peter Holley.
The coaches, along with Rockstar founder Scott Foster, are accused of a range of misconduct, including rape, providing drugs to athletes, groping and inappropriate touching, and the exchange of sexual images. In several instances, the alleged abuse occurred when the plaintiffs were minors.
Nearly all of the abuse is alleged to have occurred while the defendants were coaching at Rockstar Cheer and Dance Inc., the now-shuttered competitive cheerleading gym in Greer, South Carolina.
The lawsuit alleged that Foster’s behavior is a symptom of a much wider problem. The complaint attacks the culture and organization of competitive cheerleading, detailing an exploitative system with little accountability that “created, organized and propagated a system of young-athlete abuse against innocent victims.”
Foster was found to have died by suicide last month, according to the Greenville County Coroner’s Office.
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The amended complaint accuses Feeley, then a coach working for Foster, of sexually abusing an unnamed female plaintiff at a hotel where the team was staying during a competition. The complaint also alleges Feeley raped the same plaintiff at his apartment after supplying her with drugs and alcohol, potentially with Foster’s knowledge.
When this abuse allegedly occurred was not included in the lawsuit.
Feeley was an assistant cheerleading coach at Clemson University between 2004 and 2006, according to the website for his current cheerleading consulting business, Spring CTD.
An unidentified male plaintiff alleges Black and Holley “began making inappropriate and vulgar comments to him” when he joined Rockstar. At the time, the plaintiff was 14 years old. Two years later, when the plaintiff was 16, according to the complaint, Black and Holley solicited “nude photographs” from the minor.
One of the two coaches, whose identity is left unspecified, is alleged to have also sent nude photos of himself to the plaintiff.
Guyton is alleged to have touched a 15-year-old minor inappropriately while a coach at Rockstar. The touching, which the complaint identifies as “grooming behavior,” occurred both at the gym and at his home, according to the lawsuit. Only after the plaintiff “confided in her mother” about the behavior did the plaintiff recognize it “as abuse,” according to the lawsuit.
One unidentified female plaintiff alleges a variety of abuse by three coaches – Kathy Foster, Scott Foster’s wife, for “bullying,” “body-shaming,” and “excessive” and punishing training; Plank, for sending nude photos and videos of himself masturbating to the plaintiff when she was only 13; and Hinton, for forcing the plaintiff to “perform oral sex on him” when she was 14.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff did not report Hinton’s alleged assault for fear that “coaches or others at Rockstar would target” her sister, who also trained at the gym. Similarly, the defendant felt “powerless to stop” Plank’s alleged abuse, fearing “she would be demoted in the program or otherwise punished.”
The plaintiff did, however, disclose Plank’s abuse to her mother, who then reported it to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and cheerleading’s governing bodies Varsity Spirit LLC and USASF, according to the complaint. But the mother’s reports were “dismissed as an attempt to manipulate her daughter’s position on the cheer team and in the gym,” the complaint alleges.
Finally, the complaint levels new allegations against Scott Foster, already accused of abuse by a number of plaintiffs in this lawsuit and a previous complaint filed in Greenville County last month. In the amended complaint filed Thursday, Foster is accused of providing drugs to an unidentified plaintiff at a cheer skills camp in Miami when the plaintiff was 18. The complaint also alleges Foster brought the plaintiff to a nightclub, where he bribed a bouncer to allow her entry.
Institutional failures alleged, including by Varsity Spirit
The amended lawsuit includes an additional new defendant — Jeff Webb, founder and former CEO of the competitive cheerleading organization Varsity Spirit LLC, which is also named as a defendant.
Varsity, Varsity’s owner Bain Capital, Varsity’s former owner Charlesbank Partners, and cheerleading’s governing body the United States All-Star Federation are alleged to have created and sustained an environment that enabled abuse. According to the lawsuit, these organizations operated an exploitative system with little accountability that “created, organized and propagated a system of young-athlete abuse against innocent victims.”
The lawsuit alleges complicity on the part of Webb in his capacity as head of Varsity. Webb is described as the “brainchild” of the competitive environment created by Varsity and used “competitions as a mechanism of his companies to establish dominance of the cheer market.”
The complaint alleges Varsity employees resigned from positions at the organization because of the abuse and systemic failures they noticed, particularly when it came to policies related to athlete safety and rampant use of alcohol and drug use of athletes at cheerleading competitions.
Webb is currently the chairman of the board of directors of Varsity Brands LLC. He served as president until 2020 after allegations of abuse by Jerry Harris, a former cheerleader, and coach who rose to fame from the Netflix documentary series “Cheer.”
Harris was convicted of the production of child pornography after soliciting videos and images from two 14-year-old boys. He was sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison.
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A new milestone in Rockstar allegations
The allegations revealed Thursday represent a significant new milestone in the unfolding Rockstar Cheer saga. Though previous legal filings and news releases had alluded to abuse by multiple coaches, only Foster, Rockstar’s deceased owner, was identified by name.
Now, the widening inquiry has ensnared other individuals.
“We’re talking about serious repeated abuse that was reported to everyone, including the Greenville County Sheriff’s (Office),” Bakari Sellers, an attorney with Strom Law Firm, which filed the lawsuit, said in an emailed press release. “For Varsity Spirit, the USASF and Bain Capital, these survivors didn’t matter. Their checks did. They did nothing to stop this abuse then and they’re doing nothing now.”
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office was not actively investigating Foster when he died, according to spokesperson Lt. Ryan Flood.
The Department of Homeland Security, reported by Strom to be conducting its own investigation of Foster, would neither confirm nor deny such an investigation when reached by The Greenville News, part of the USA TODAY Network.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, RAINN offers support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE & online.rainn.org).